That photographer friend…

As an amateur photographer like many of you, I’m always looking for an excuse to shoot. Whether it be a day out, a wedding (as a guest), birthday party and the list goes on..

Because of this, the people close to me are used to me carrying a camera everywhere and posting out of context, random images to my personal Facebook wall on a very regular basis. I think as a result of this I have made it a bit of a personal responsibility to document events in my life and for others close to me. Maybe it’s so in the future I can look back happily nostalgic, or even to review my own photography, but for whatever reason it means that if you invite me to a party, gathering, or day out, you will end up with some images to remember it.

I think everyone has someone like this in their family or their group of friends and when I think back, my Grandad was that person. He would film all the family occasions with his cine-camera and every now and again we would have an evening to enjoy the images & film he’d taken on his slide projector.

These images are demonstrating exactly the kind of documentary photography that I have come to love. The opportunity came about when I was kindly invited as a guest to a birthday party. I even remember saying to my better half whether I should take the camera and “Do you think they would mind if I took images for the evening?” but then I answered my own question with “Why wouldn’t they? It’s capturing a beautiful moment in their life.” So I packed as light as I could, as after all, I was a guest as well as the unofficial photographer.

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Once I arrived, I set up the basic camera settings that I would use for the night. In my case this meant classic chrome, ISO AUTO, shutter set to AUTO and aperture set to f/1.4 (to keep the ISO to a minimum in the low light environment).

I started by enjoying a snack or two (of course!) and then looking around the room for the best costumes (fancy dress theme was the letter ‘T’), best expressions and where the best lighting was in the room. As you may or may not know my favourite set up is the X-E2 with XF35mm lens, this night was no exception. I had only this gear with me and a spare battery just in case.

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After the initial ‘Venue set up shots’ I began to focus my attention to people, being people – looking for those little moments and expressions that may otherwise be missed. From the happy & silly to the indifferent, any moment that could portray emotional involvement with the event would be snapped.

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The evening was going well and mingling had just started to make good pace when something brilliant happened – a magician turned up! And what was even better? Simple, this guy was superb. He immediately had people huddled in small groups laughing and puzzling over his close-up magic wonderment. This was the perfect element for me to focus on, I wanted to capture the suspense, surprise and bemusement that followed after each and every trick.

My approach here was to keep an eye on where the ‘actual’ excitement was in each moment. For example it could be the expression of an individual, the trick itself, the movement in the image etc. These are some of my images hopefully showing just that.

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I did occasionally stray away from the automatic focus and automatic shutter to help capture this fast fingered magician in motion.

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What is the next essential part of any family party?…. Yes, you’re right, it’s dancing! 😉 And not just any old songs either, it had to be the ‘classic’ Macarena.

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It’s all about those little moments that create one collage of memories and emotions caught in time.

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And most importantly, trying to capture the single most significant moment that sums up the whole event. The shot below shows my best attempt at this. Here you can see the family coming together after a rousing speech and the DJ reflects perfectly how their emotion is shared outwards by others around them.

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So the question is… are YOU that photography friend that everyone knows? Are you the one who makes it your passion to capture life as it happens for you and for your family? If so, I salute you! If your answer is no, why not give it a go? It will expand your skills, your confidence and very importantly it will develop your own style further. For me, if you haven’t noticed, I can’t help but shoot a lot of Dutch Angle style, rightly or wrongly, this is part of my style that has developed over time.

Please share your own experiences and thoughts in the comments below.

Happy Shooting! 🙂

The right gear for the job – Wildlife

I thought this could be a helpful blog series for individuals looking to invest in equipment with particular interests in mind. This blog series will hopefully cover gear and techniques to help those getting into photography, who want to develop their skill set and knowledge. Because one of my main subject matters is wildlife I thought I’d start off with this genre.

Wildlife photography is a genre that can massively benefit from having suitable equipment, in my eyes more so than many other photography genres (but I’m biased!). To that end it’s good to be prepared with the most suitable gear for the task.

Best Camera – X-T1

The X-T1 has a number of features that make it the most suitable camera for wildlife:

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Knowing that my X-T1 and 18-135mm lens set up was weather sealed meant that I could stop worrying about splashes and focus on capturing the dolphins.

First of all it is a weather sealed camera, so when used with a weather sealed lens you have a completely sealed system which is important when outdoors if you’re having to counter water in wet conditions or dust in dry conditions.

Then there is the fast auto focus, which the X-T1 is definitely the best at in the X-Series at this moment in time. The auto focus is very quick in single focus mode with basically every lens available and the continuous focusing mode is also very reliable and quick once focus has locked.

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Fast continuous focus and 8 frames per second meant that I could get the composition just right as these terns flew at me on the Farne Islands.

Being able to shoot at 8 frames per second and take advantage of the latest UHS-II SD cards for fast writing speeds means that this camera can cope with quickly evolving situations where you need fast bursts to capture the action and to be quickly ready to repeat the process.

As well as the camera being great, the accessories can be really helpful, namely the battery grip. Often with wildlife photography you are out and about for many hours and the last thing you want to happen is to be stuck changing batteries just as something exciting is happening (this has happened to me far too many times!). The battery grip holds an extra battery so doubles the time before you need to change your batteries.

Finally, the big thing about to come to the X-T1 (black version) is the electronic shutter. Being able to shoot at up to 1/32000 second is great but is generally not necessary for the lenses used with wildlife photography; but what will be very beneficial is the silent shutter. If you’re close to wildlife or in ear shot then even the slightest sound can set off a timid animal. The X-T1 shutter is by no means loud but certain animals have such finely tuned hearing that the mechanical shutter sound can be enough to scare off your subject.

Back up camera – X-E2

Having two cameras is a good idea for wildlife photography. It is often helpful to have two different lenses on the cameras so you can quickly capture images at different focal lengths, going from the close up headshot to the animal in environment shot. If an X-T1 is out of the question, let alone two of them, then the X-E2 is a brilliant compromise. It offers a more affordable option and though it may not have weather sealing and all the bells and whistles I mentioned above it is still a very capable camera. With 7 frames per second and a hybrid AF system that includes contrast and phase detection, this camera is able to capture fast paced action almost as well as the X-T1.

Lenses

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The 55-200mm in action.

The 55-200mm is currently the longest lens available for the X-Series until the 140-400mm comes out very soon. Covering a good range with a very useable widest aperture (F3.5-4.8), this lens is a super lightweight option for wildlife photography. The auto focus is fast and accurate plus the lens has OIS (optical image stabilisation) which is great to help you capture sharp shots if you’re handholding.

Moving into the weather sealed lenses, the 18-135mm lens is a brilliant all-in-one wildlife/nature lens to carry around if you’re wanting a one-lens solution. When used on the X-T1 this is a sealed system that has snappy auto focus and OIS to help make sure your shot comes out sharp. If you’re looking to have a more specialist lens(es) then the new 50-140mm is a good place to start, though not as long as the 55-200mm lens it offers a widest constant aperture of F2.8. This is brilliant for photography in darker conditions, such as golden hour at sunrise and sunset. This has been combined with OIS and the world’s first triple linear motor auto focus system to ensure you focus in on your subject quickly and get sharp results. This lens has internal focusing and zoom, helping ensure that no moisture or dust can get into this weather sealed lens.

Wildlife doesn’t always require the longest focal length possible. Often framing your subject within the environment can have a much more powerful effect than the classic headshot close up. The soon to be released 16-55mm lens will be the perfect partner for the 50-140mm lens, providing another weather sealed option with a fast widest aperture of F2.8.

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Highland cattle of the Isle of Skye at 18mm. Not the best ‘wild’life photograph but it helps emphasise the point of framing an animal in its environment.

If you’re interested in macro photography then you have two options, the Fujifilm XF60mm F2.4 or the Zeiss 50mm F2.8. I have used the Fujifilm version and love it, though if you want 1:1 scale then the Zeiss is the way to go. These lenses are also great general purpose lenses, the orang utan photo at the top was taken with the XF60mm.

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Ants crawl over a vivid red plant in the heart of the rainforest in Borneo.
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An emerald green beetle’s shell glistens from my off camera flash. The XF60mm is a great lens to cover a wide variety of shots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope this has proved helpful to those of you that are looking to invest in the Fujifilm X-Series for wildlife photography. If you have any questions then please leave a comment below or contact me via:

Twitter – @benji_cherry

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BenCherryPhotography

Shooting street fashion portraits with Alex Lambrechts

“Join me as I walk you through my photographic expedition into the world of street fashion photography with the masterful” – Alex Lambrechts.

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In this ‘episode’, Marc and I were given an excellent opportunity to join the exciting Fashion X Street workshop with Alex Lambrechts. The aim of the workshop was to get photographers using the system in-the-wild, on the fly and to build upon an individual’s confidence in a shooting style, which is to my mind, full of adrenaline, passion and presence.

The group met inside a beautiful coffee/pizzeria house located in the heart of Soho, and it was here that Alex began to explain his craft and the general structure of the day. As part of the ‘FujiGuys UK’ we took along some of our new Fuji toys for the group to have a play with. These included the X100T, XF18-135mm lens and the pocket-rocket X30. After a coffee and a chat, we set out to the streets of Soho armed with our Fuji cameras in hand!

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Alex led us to our first destination; a small, dark and empty alleyway – sounds ominous so far I know, but bear with me 😉 Alex showed us how the light between two buildings gave the perfect softbox lighting effect, and that this would prove excellent for the style we were going for.

He gave the client’s brief, which was what he wanted to see in our shots and practical suggestions as to how to achieve exactly that. The brief immediately grabbed my photographic appetite and I couldn’t wait to see what I could achieve.

The fictitious brief was this (not a word for word quote):

“Because the subject is a musician and a model. I want to see you capture and explore the human element within the shots, not just the standard model expressions but ‘who’ our client is.  And as this is to be published in a fashion magazine, I want to see shots off-angle, gritty and real.”

You can probably see why I was excited; it was something completely new to me and just wanted to get as much experience out of it as possible.

This is where Alex’s stunning wife & professional model Jasmin Lambrechts came in, and what a combination! As they worked side by side, Alex explained things in an informal, yet very informative style. He gave some seriously useful tips on how to direct your model, how to set the camera and how to achieve the perfect lighting on the subjects face.

We started with some slow shutter speeds ‘1/30 to 1/60’ of a second panning shots, this was to capture movement and a unique style, only really achieved in this manner. I think we all found this a pretty tricky technique, but it was probably the most rewarding when you actually got a “YES, I got a good one!”.

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X-E2 – XF35mm – 1/40 – ISO 200 – f4.5

As the workshop progressed, we started giving some direction to Jasmin, it was bits and pieces at first, and I’m sure this was down to some of us never having shot a model before. It did however, become more and more natural as we built a rapport with Jasmin and as we found what camera settings worked best.

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One of the most helpful tips Alex gave in my opinion was regarding lighting. He really wanted to focus our attention to the exposure of the shot, to ensure we were exposing for the highlights of her face. It may seem an obvious piece of information, but I found really focusing on it turned images from delete to keep. It ensured all the detail was kept on the face, especially when dealing in this ‘contrasty’ environment.

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The shot above is one of my favourites from the day. I asked Jasmin if she would throw her hair back so I could try and capture it in full swing. Here I used a fast shutter speed of 1/3000, a generally accepted no-no of ISO6400 (because I needed the fast shutter speed) and had the camera set to manual focusing to make the shot ‘instant’ when the shutter was depressed – and yes, this was not the first attempt, maybe more like the fifth to get it right! The ISO performance on the X-E2 is SO good.

This was another great tip from Alex in regards to action and street photography. He said if you pre-focus on an area where your subject is going to walk and then switch to manual focus, you know every single time that your image is going to be in focus when the subject / model hits that spot. This is particularly useful in street photography, it allows the photographer to frame up a shot and then simply wait for the subject to walk into that frame.

Here are other shots I took that ‘made-the-grade’, at least in my book anyway 😉

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Alex had great presence when talking us through ideas as we shot in this environment, throwing us suggestions, checking our shots on the go and even highlighting some great shots our fellow photographers were getting whilst there. This all helped spur me on to try and get the best results I could.

Once we had shot this location from every possible angle, other than hanging off the side of the building (which I would have tried if I could have found a way!), Alex talked us through the next stage in this exciting photography voyage.

Basically, we were going to be on the move, shooting fashion in the streets of Soho amongst the general public. This was where my adrenaline levels went from 7 to 15 (out of ten!) in less than a second.  Alex explained how he wanted us to capture the more human element in this environment, the ‘circus’ as he put it, and it really was just that.

Jasmin stepped into the busy, bustling streets of London and we needed to be ready. We were advised to keep ahead of Jasmin to ensure we could scope out the best framing, best angles and to be more aware of great photographic, candid moments. For me, this involved running like mad to stay ahead, trying not to get run over by cars, bikes or pedestrians, not photobombing other photographers shots and still find a good angle myself with the correct exposure! All in all, super exciting, very challenging and incredibly fun!

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The reason it was such a circus is because we looked like the Paparazzi. Imagine 12 -14 photographers chasing a beautiful model down the street, all trying to get the perfect shot will certainly draw some attention. People were taking pictures on their mobiles, just-in-case she was famous, asking who she was & who we were – what a buzz I can tell you!

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We even had a local restaurateur take to the street stage to grace us with his surprisingly good singing voice. These were the kind of quick paced moments you needed to really know your camera settings, luckily I was just about ready to capture this one below.

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After the crazy, brilliant and thrilling roller coaster ride, it was nothing short of perfect to get back to the pizzeria for a beer, pizza and have a chat. The group mingled beautifully, each sharing our successes, failures and our ‘what we would try next times‘. Alex wrapped the day up nicely by highlighting things we did well, things we could improve upon and again, going through individual’s images to give personal feedback – this was a nice touch.

For me, I compare this experience to that warm fuzzy feeling you get at Christmas. I had been given the experience to meet our lovely photographers face-to-face, develop my skills as a photographer and share this experience with like-minded individuals.

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The Gang

If you get the chance I highly, highly recommend going on this course and any other that gives you the chance to learn your photography with others. It not only is a great sociable experience, but most importantly, you get to learn how others see shots that you, yourself may have missed.

If you have any thoughts, questions or comments, please do drop us a line below and we will try and assist where we can.

Click here to see images taken by other members of the group (Log into Facebook required to view).

Thanks for reading

Dale

 

What focal length should I use and why?

w360_6415757_tutorialbannerfordotmailerHere’s a quick, hopefully informative snippet as to why you might choose one focal length over another, and why.

The idea for this blog came about when I was asked recently “Why don’t you just zoom-out to get the person in the frame?”. This is a very good question and I felt it needed a mini demonstration to really help answer it. All one needs to conduct this experiment is the following:

  • A willing volunteer – I had a Marc
  • A zoom lens of any kind – In my case, the XF18-135mm lens
  • Oh, and a camera!

The experiment is simple; frame your subject (Marc) the same each time and take a picture at different focal lengths. I chose four focal lengths along the barrel of the lens to best demonstrate. With this, we had the ever-helpful Terry to hand with a camera to capture the experiment from the third person perspective.

Hopefully what you will notice is that the wider the angle, (18mm) the more clutter there is in the image whereas at the 135mm setting, pretty much all clutter has ‘disappeared’.

Why does this happen?

Without going into huge mathematical detail (that I don’t even fully understand) it is because wide angle shots will achieve a larger angle of view and long zooms won’t. This is how much ‘fits’ into the shot – peripheral vision if you like.

As a rule of thumb, wider angle lenses work great for landscape photography and indoors (where you don’t have a lot of room to manoeuvre) as they can fit more in. Wider angles, however, are not great for portrait shots as they will pull the centre of the frame forwards creating distortion in perspective – example image below.

Longer zooms on the other hand work great for de-cluttering a frame to create stunning portraits. This is because the angle of view is smaller, and more importantly, they have a compressing effect. In essence, a long zoom pulls the background closer to the foreground and can give a more natural, slim looking head shape whilst also helping aid the bokeh effect – increasing the focal length of a lens decreases the depth of field.

Here are two example shots I took that hopefully help demonstrate the difference:

The image on the left (135mm) shows Marc’s head in proper perspective. However, the right shot (18mm) shows the nose being ‘pulled’ forward towards the lens and his head being turned into a rugby ball! You will also notice there is more of Marc’s surroundings in the wider angle shot – this diverts some attention away from his face, which, in a portrait shot we don’t want to do.

I hope this post gets you thinking more about which focal length to use rather than just zooming in and out for convenience.

Having a zoom lens is incredibly helpful at times, but it would best to think of your zoom lens as a series of prime lenses. Most photographers, if not all, use specific focal lengths for specific purposes; this is due to the individual optical effects each focal length provides. It really does make a difference to the end result – as (hopefully) shown above 😉

If you can, please go and try this yourself to get a real feel for it. It will help with your own understanding as to what focal length you might want to use, and for which subjects

 

Yerbury Studio and Fujifilm Power of the Portrait Seminar

I’m so lucky. I have one of those jobs where I get to speak to creative people on a daily basis, share ideas, see amazing images all the time. It can be quite overwhelming, inspiring visions springing out of nowhere, ideas being converted from the written word to a physical printed image. In an industry which is (thankfully) teeming with creative types, there are certain names which keep being talked about. One of those names is Trevor Yerbury, in fact two names Trevor and Faye Yerbury. For those who don’t know Trevor and Faye own the Yerbury Studio, based in Edinburgh, one of the most highly respected and regarded photographic studios in the UK. Trevor Yerbury is a 4th generation photographer, the business founded by his great grand­father in Edinburgh in 1864.

2Trevor joined the family business in 1968 and has been driving the business forward, with his wife Faye and team, ever since. Together they create the most amazingly simple, striking and sophisticated images, creating an overall elegant and timeless collection of images. Both Trevor and Faye have received accolades over the years from Masters of Photography, Fellowships and between them hold 15 Kodak European Gold Awards. Internationally they are also respected judges.

Trevor and Faye organise a series of very successful seminars, both in the UK and abroad, sharing their experience, skills and passion with fellow professional photographers.

Both Trevor and Faye are now passionate users of the Fujifilm X range of cameras and Fujinon lenses, using them pretty much exclusively for all their work now. Trevor uses the X-Pro1 and Faye the X-T1, but as with all married couples they are pretty happy to share cameras and lenses. That’s how it works, right?

I recently joined them on one of their seminar tours in the UK at St Albans. They’ve been producing a series of seminars based around The Power of the Portrait.  Here they spoke to an eager congregation of professional photographers, who were there to learn the secrets to success in portrait photography and help fine tune skills in marketing and promoting a profitable portrait business.

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There are many things which I found fascinating. Firstly, just how generous Trevor and Faye are with their knowledge and understanding. Of course, they are experts in terms of photography skill, but they’ve fine-tuned all aspects of their business, will talk about most commonly made mistakes and also how to maximise the profitability, the relationships and the longevity of the business.  They will talk to photographers in a way which really resonates, especially elements such as creating your own photographic style, the importance of relationships, after sales and creating unique products.

Secondly, how passionate they are about our cameras – you may find this hard to swallow and a bit contrived coming from the PR Manager, but they really are. To hear terms like, ‘The Fuji system is the future of photography’ and ‘they should change the shutter sound to one that makes the same sound as a cash register’ is totally from their mouths, not ours.  It’s wonderful to hear because you know it’s honest. They wouldn’t be using the X cameras if it wasn’t going to work for them and help produce shots to showcase their work.  Obviously these guys have been in the business a good while now and know what they like and what they don’t like. It made me very happy to hear what they were saying and to see so many people in the audience already with their X cameras ready.

Throughout the day they shot a few attendees, showing how simply you can produce an amazing image, using one camera, one lens, one reflector and one light box.  Amazing.

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After the seminar you could tell that all the delegates were energised and motivate, ready to get back to their studios with fresh ideas and a revitalised view of how to run their business and also seeing some of the amazing pictures taken by two of the most respected photographers in the UK, on the X-cameras.

Further information regarding The Power of The Portrait can be found here, new dates have been added:

http://www.yerburystudio.com/power-portrait-2/

Information about the Fujifilm X- Series cameras:

http://www.fujifilm.eu/uk/products/digital-cameras/

Aspire and Fujifilm – Becoming a Storyteller with the X-Pro1 and X-T1

For those who don’t know, Aspire Photography are based in the Lake District. Set amongst the beautiful and dramatic landscape, along a windy road and built within converted stable yard, you have to walk over an old cattle grid to enter. This may not sound like a very poetic or creative start, but hang on a mo. As you walk over the cattle grid something really rather magical happens. You can’t see it, you can’t smell or taste it, but you can feel it. It’s as though invisible fairies are perched on the gates and sprinkle you with fairy dust as you walk into the entrance.

You may be thinking that I’ve had a bit too much to drink, or perhaps been out in the sun for too long, but bear with me.

Aspire Photography (rather, multi-award winning Aspire Photography) are a very special group of photography trainers, running courses for all different levels throughout the year. They specialise in styled shoots and empowering photographers to understand how they can become better photographers, and how to run a successful photography business. They also have a strong, but by no means exclusive, female engagement. It’s not just down to things looking pretty, or sets being styled to the most amazing standard. What Aspire teach is that it’s a totally safe environment to ask questions, to challenge your limits and to play – to really play with photographic techniques and leave with a portfolio of new images and a fresh outlook on your personal style of photography.

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One of the reasons we wanted to engage with the Aspire “tribe” is because the X-Series of CSC cameras has really connected with female photographers – they love how light the system is, the amazing image quality and the damage limitation the price point has on their business expenditure.

The day started with Kerry Hendry, our first UK female photographer, talking us through her journey from Nikon to Fujifilm. Why did she decide to make the switch? What did it mean to her style of photography? We then move on to the technical aspects of the X-T1, X-Pro1 and lens line-up. There’s a mixture of attendees. Some are curious and open to the idea of the X-Series and others are already X converts but want to know how to get more out of their camera.

6After lunch the real fun begins, and I mean the opportunity to play! Three models have been dressed to embrace the Midsummer’s Night Theme and amazing stages of beautiful woodland fantasy scenery were created to make an amazing photographic landscape. Everyone was encouraged to interact with the models, to capture stunning still images that would demonstrate the creative capabilities of the camera and to have fun. The images from the day, from all the attendees were stunning.

I interviewed both Kerry and Catherine to understand their view of the day:

Why Fuji?

Kerry Hendry – Love The Image

Going back to using Fuji has been a remarkably natural progression for me.  I shot grainy Fuji film as a teenager and fell in love with the Fuji way right back then.

I am the one who misses the smell of film in the fridge!  More recently I’d gotten drawn into the whole ‘bigger is better’ perception – and that’s all it is, a perception – and it just didn’t feel right.  I was looking to find my photographic mojo again – and bought a Fuji X-E2 and one kit lens, and I’ve not looked back.

I adore the unique image quality the Fuji’s produce, after all, quality is still the primary influencer.  The smaller, lighter system gives allows me to feel free again – to try new things, to capture landscapes without 10kg of kit in my bag.  Travelling light in any respect is liberating – and for me, using Fuji kit has made me excited about photography again, given me new inspiration – and it also seems to bring a smile to my face.

I’ve worked with Aspire for almost a decade, in a marketing capacity and as a photographer – the Aspire way really does change your life!

The team teaches you to look at your strengths, concerns, opportunities, your creative ‘wish list’ and so many other aspects of becoming a better photographer – whether that’s as a hobby or with the aim to going pro.  And then of course, they help you achieve these goals.

On the Aspire/Fuji courses we leave the every day aspects of life – pressures, distractions and worries – at the Aspire gate.

Once you drive onto the estate it’s all about freedom to express your creativity within – while learning and developing too.

On the Fuji days of course we talk kit – and there’s the opportunity for guests to try and of the cameras and lenses they like – including all the latest releases.

Many courses will talk theory, but there’s no better way that putting what you learn, or new things you want to try, straight into practice on a professionally styled shoot.

It’s the perfect opportunity to capture amazing images for your portfolio, or simply immerse yourself in a friendly, explorative environment in which to learn.

Think gorgeous models, magical styling, likeminded new friends to work with, technical expertise to quiz – and of course Fuji freedom & fun!

Catherine –

Aspire Photography Training designs educational programs that teach and inform whilst inspiring those to push the boundaries of their photography.

We train those that have a keen interest in photography and those who are passionate about photography.  Whether you are a hobbyist or seasoned professional we have a range of courses to suit all.  We have been a significant influencer on some of the best businesses in the UK.  Education is at the core of all we do.

We believe the Fujifilm X-Pro1 range will revolutionise the perception of what a professional photographer should look like and already is essential gear for a professional to have over their shoulder. Women and men alike are leaping to change over to the X range, all for differing reasons.  We have witnessed photographers reach out to the X-range to seek sheer quality of the product, we also have seen many photographers change to the X-range to liberate themselves from an overweight camera bag, enabling them to deal with any scenario with ease. The Fuji X-Pro1 is high on Aspire’s agenda, we will be giving this camera and system a great deal of conversation, time and training space. The X range is making it’s mark with the professional photographers who are at the coal face of weddings, commercial and portrait shoots, mainly due to the freedom given and the sheer level of technical ability it gives them on a daily basis.

Aspire Photography Training is all about looking ahead, liberating and thinking out of the box.  In fact we don’t even have a box, just a broad and open mind to all the possibilities photography can give you when you choose to think creativity.

The next Aspire and Fujifilm workshop takes place on Wed 20th Aug, in the Lake District.

All images by Kerry Hendry at Love the Image.

 

 

Capturing Croyde and Lundy Island with the XF10-24mm & X-E2 combo

Follow Dale as he takes a journey round Devon’s beautiful Croyde Bay & Lundy Island.

As you may or may not know the XF35mm is my ‘everyday’ lens but when it comes to landscape photography the XF10-24mm is my next ‘must-have’ lens. I used to use the XF14mm lens – which by the way is superb, but I’ve realised that I just cannot get enough of that ultra-wide 10mm setting.

I have only been delving into the landscape photography world of late and am still very much finding my feet. When looking back through my landscapes I have noticed that I clearly love the slightly stranger viewpoints, mainly from a wide-angle, ground-up perspective. It may be that the world is just more interesting down there!?

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Focal Length: 10mm (XF10-24mm) – ISO200 – f/4.5 – 1/950 – Ilfracombe Harbour

I like trying to ‘add a little epic’ to my landscapes. The way I have found myself doing this is to locate a small object, whether it be a footprint, a rock etc and get it right up close to the lens. This distorts its perspective and makes it a real important part to the composition. It’s very easy to miss the small details in a beautiful view, so doing this can really shake-up the images and give a new feel to your photography.

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Focal Length: 10mm (XF10-24mm) – ISO200 – f/4 – 1/950 – Lundy Island

We’ve always been told practice makes perfect right? Well, I don’t know if it makes ‘perfect’ but it certainly helps with repetition. I find that the more I shoot, the more I know how a shot is going to turn out before I’ve even turned the camera on. It can give great insight as to whether I should get set up for a shot or move on to a new area / viewpoint.

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XF35mm – ISO200 – f/4 – 1/2900 – Lundy Island – Had to sneak my XF35mm lens into this blog somewhere! 😉

In an effort to create better landscape images I have been using the Rule of Thirds more and more consciously. Across the board this has rewarded me with more “That’s a keeper!” shots.

In addition to this, I’ve been thinking more carefully about where to ‘put’ the horizon line. I usually just ponder which is more interesting – the sky or the foreground? If the sky is more interesting it takes up two thirds of the image and vice versa. I thought the scene below had a more interesting foreground to shoot, so the foreground takes prominence.

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Focal Length: 10mm (XF10-24mm) – ISO200 – f/11 – 1/420 – Ilfracombe Harbour

On the opposite side of things, I found this sky (below) to be more dramatic and I loved how the church had an on-the-edge-of-the-world feel to it. So, I gave the sky two thirds of the frame and the church the lesser attention to increase this on-the-edge-of-the-world theme. I post-processed this one to give it a more matte-like / painted finish.

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XF35mm – ISO200 – f/11 – 1/420 – Lundy Island

The XF10-24mm isn’t just for landscape either, it worked perfectly inside the Lundy Island lighthouse to capture the whole winding staircase – which on a different note, was very steep!

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Focal Length: 10mm (XF10-24mm) – ISO6400 – f/4 – 1/56 – Lundy Island

Sunsets, anyone?

The next few images are some of the best I could get while shooting in the ‘golden hour‘. It’s not an area I have had great amounts of experience with, but, I wanted to share a few tips that could save you some stress as I found out the hard way.

Firstly, give yourself lots of time to get to the location you are going to shoot. Set up and relax way before the sun has started setting. Otherwise, you may find yourself fumbling with ND grad filters and tripods like I was.

I always thought a sunset was a peaceful, enjoyable thing, but when you are trying to shoot it the sun seems to set faster than you can say Usain Bolt!

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Focal Length: 18mm (XF10-24mm) – ISO200 – f/9 – 1/38 – Croyde Bay

The second piece of advice is to know where the sun is going to set. One night I literally found myself running across a beach. I had the camera attached to a tripod while dangerously navigating slippery rocks pools and small sand holes that the kids had dug during the day! I must say though it was some of the most exciting photography I have done in a long time.

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Focal Length: 24mm (XF10-24mm) – ISO200 – f/8 – 1/60 – Croyde Bay

On the bright side, the running down the beach to capture the sunset actually made a picture in itself. Again, emphasising the foreground subject by getting on my hands and knees to put the lens right up close. DEVN0176

I hope you have enjoyed taking my very short tour of some truly photogenic places. Here are some other shots I captured from the trip away that you may like. Any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

Happy Shooting

Dale

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‘Coming round the mountain’ with Dale and his X-E2.

Who doesn’t love a little adventure from time to time? 

My adventure begins with simplest of texts: “Fancy coming to Wales for a week, for free?” sent from my Mum on a weekday morning. Well who could pass on an opportunity like that? I hadn’t done a great deal of landscape photography and knew that this was a great chance to up my skills in this area.

I mentioned my trip to a few colleagues and they suggested I grab some ND Graduated filters to give me more control over the exposure of sky and land. I had never used an ND Filter before, but was excited to give them a go. I knew I couldn’t afford anything decent so I simply bought some £15 (delivered) ND filters with holders on Ebay.

So a few weeks later, fully prepared with all the bits and bobs (tripod, batteries, etc) we set off. I had only been to Wales once as a kid and didn’t remember it that well. All I knew was that I would see LOTS of sheep. Here was a little snap I caught and loved of one of the first sheep I saw there.

Blowing raspberries?
Blowing raspberries?

After settling into our holiday home, we planned out the week ahead. This included going into the underground mines, climbing Snowdon, visiting Anglesey and other holiday-type locations.

Destination number one had to be Snowdon as the weather forecast was looking good and we wanted the best visability when we made it to the top. My Fiancée and I decided to take the Snowdon Ranger path as it was recommended as beautiful and not too difficult.

Here are some of the shots going up the mountainside.

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ISO 200 – f/7.1 – 1/105 – XF10-24mm
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ISO 200 – f/6.4 – 1/120 – XF10-24mm
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ISO 200 – f/11 – 1/100 – XF10-24mm

You may notice that the sky has that slight layered darkness to it, that is the ND grad filters. They help darken the sky area so the whole picture can be exposed correctly. Without them the sky would have been bright white and the colours would’ve been washed out. One problem I did face with the ND filters was that because they were cheap, they had a tendency to give a magenta colour cast on the image. To combat the issue, I used Photoshop to target problem areas using a Solid fill layer set to overlay and then picked a more suitable colour.

Once we made it to the top we saw the train that runs alongside the Llanberis path. A beautiful train though it was, I am glad we walked up for the sense of achievement and also the train did seem rather old and clunky! Made for a great snap though.

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ISO 200 – f/9 – 1/90 – XF10-24mm
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ISO 200 – f/6.4 – 1/750 – XF10-24mm

Here is the view from the very top. I boosted the colours a bit in Photoshop but it really was that clear and that beautiful. I highly recommend taking a visit if you can.
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Now I love visiting Castles, something about the history and the medieval era interest me somewhat. So it is not surprising that we had to take a trip to the recommended – Conwy Castle. Unfortunately I didn’t get many good shots of the castle itself as I would have wanted to take them from the sea as a landscape shot and we didn’t come in from that side. However, it did give me an excellent viewpoint to trial the ‘Miniature’ mode on the camera. Here are some of the shots taken from the top.

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ISO 200 – f/5.6 – 1/125 – XF56mm
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ISO 200 – f/2.5 – 1/750 – XF56mm
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ISO 200 – f/4 – 1/180 – XF56mm

One of my favourite days out had to be travelling round Anglesey. It was my turn to drive out of the family and I must say it was truly excellent. The roads were full of interest with their twists & turns, cliff edges and mountainous surroundings and the views were simply picturesque – everywhere. I remember I kept saying “We will get a picture here on the way back”, I said that about 20 times as pretty much every corner I turned there was another shot waiting to be taken.

One of the first places we stopped was a little place on the coast that I cannot remember the name due to it being “Oh that looks nice, let’s stop here for a minute and take some snaps”. A couple of hours later we were still there enjoying the views and wandering along the coastline.

Here are a few shots from this ‘unknown’ location using the ND grad filters again.

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ISO 200 – f/4 – 1/800 – XF10-24mm
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ISO 200 – f/4 – 1/1800 – XF10-24mm
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ISO 200 – f/9 – 1/120 – XF10-24mm
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ISO 200 – f/5 – 1/600 – XF10-24mm
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ISO 200 – f/6.4 – 1/90 – XF10-24mm

Once we had eaten some lunch here we knew it was time to move on to get the ‘necessary’ holiday ice-cream’ from a beach nearby, we chose the beautiful Beaumaris Pier in Anglesey (shot below).

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Pier at Beaumaris – Anglesey

We also visited some other piers and beaches on the day. Here are two shots that I was really lucky to find. The first image is of a pier, my feet/shoes were pretty soaked after this one as the sea water was coming up from under the wooden beams! I have post-processed this image firstly into black and white and then colourised it with a blue tone to add to the drama of the shot.

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ISO 200 – f/9 – 1/250 – XF10-24mm

The second image was shot on a pier that had this impressive looking building attached, I just loved the look in black and white with all the lines created in the flooring. Again using the ND grad filter to pull some contrast into the sky.

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ISO 200 – f/4 – 1/550 – XF10-24mm

The final part of the day was to track down a good lighthouse image. I found the best one near to us to be South Stack Lighthouse. It was pretty difficult to find and quite a walk to it but it was well worth the effort. As mentioned previously in this blog the ND grad filters gave a magenta cast to all my images. With this particular image I didn’t filter much of it out as I loved the colour with this composition.

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I have come to the end of my mini adventure and I hope you enjoyed being a part of it. Hopefully it will inspire you to go out and venture among these beautiful landscapes and just have fun.

Dale Young

 

“Why the X series?” with Martin Castein

Why choose the X-Series? Read our guest blog by Martin Castein to find out.

About Martin
Martin has achieved 18 gold awards at SWPP (Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers) which is one of the largest international photography organizations in the world. Is the 2013 SWPP architectural photographer of the year and has also been nominated by the judges as the SWPP overall photographer of the year for 2013.

The Fuji X-series journey for me began with the excellent X-E1 and now the X-Pro1. The weight-saving advantage of the X series is obvious. But let’s look a little deeper than that.

EVF and Sensor
For the type of photography I do, I like to bring out a lot of detail, colour and contrast in my images.
So for me it is vital that I get my exposures absolutely perfect and that the sensor of the camera is truly capable when it comes to delivering detail, dynamic range and the tone the sensor produces, particularly skin tones.
Let me give you an example. This image was processed in Lightroom. The sensor can handle the complex lighting easily, in fact better than some current top end DSLRs I have owned.

XF-18-55mm - ISO200 - f/2.8
XF-18-55mm – ISO200 – f/2.8

Colour
I work mostly in colour. I love colour.
We live in the digital age where colour can be so expressive and powerful.
The Fuji X-series sensor can match and in most instances beat other manufacturers when it comes to these issues.

When the X-trans sensor is combined with the live exposure of the Fuji X-series EVF, we have the recipe for a very high hit-rate of usable images.
This next image was taken with a wall blocking half the image, the flare on the left is from a window, not post production. I could see this in viewfinder before I took the image, this aids creativity. Post production in Lightroom again, very simple with the brilliant colour of the X-trans sensor.

XF18-55mm - ISO640 - f/4
XF18-55mm – ISO640 – f/4

Manual focus
I really love the ability to use manual focus and then have the back button do autofocus should I require it. I use this all the time. It is like manual focus with auto focus override. With other systems we have auto focus with manual override.
This works because it is so easy to see what is in focus in the EVF.
I can see the focus peeking, working all the time. This way I can fire off shots freely, capturing moments and know immediately when it is time to change my focus. That’s the benefit of not needing to take the camera away from your eye. What you see is what you get.

LCD screen
Additionally, it is an advantage to have a rear LCD screen that can focus the same way as the viewfinder can. This allows me to get unusual angles and shoot from angles that wouldn’t be easy to manage with a DSLR. In the past I went through a lot of trial and error with a DSLR to get the same angles.

Advantages
So for me the biggest advantage of the X-series is the combination of the incredible performance of the X-trans sensor with Fuji’s brilliant implementation of the electronic viewfinder and manual focusing. Of course coupled with the savings in size and weight.

Lets remember
We are artists. As photographers we rely on our equipment to allow us to fulfil our artistic vision. The urge that drives us to create, that is what we are all about as photographers. The tool we do that with, our camera, ultimately either enhances this ambition or it stifles it.
The fact is our choice of camera affects how we feel about photography.
Fuji made that t-shirt we all like to wear, they made the camera that speaks to the photographer in a way that is hard to verbalise other than it feels right.

XF35mm - ISO200 - f/5.6
XF35mm – ISO200 – f/5.6

To see more of Martin’s work, please visit his website here or follow him on Facebook